7 Steps to Becoming a Category Detective & Identifying Sales

Identifying Profitable Category Sales Opportunities

7 Steps to Identifying Profitable Category Sales Opportunities – ‘The Detective’ is about how you can more easily wade through the considerable amount of category data available today, the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’ to identify the opportunities that you want.

Adopting a process will help and maybe there are some learnings from our friends in the force – ‘The Detective’. These 7 steps will help you avoid going down ‘rabbit holes’, save you time, and help you arrive at the most valuable sales opportunities.

Here are our 7 Steps to Identifying Profitable Category Sales Opportunities using ‘The Detective’ method:

Supermarket shelves showing how products are arranged
Identifying Profitable Category Sales Opportunities

1. Create a Description

Write down a few words for yourself about what you want to find, e.g. ‘Sales opportunities for my business valued at +£1.3m per year, deliverable within 3 months’.

2. Identify the Key Suspects

Gather the top-line evidence to understand where the most likely suspects will be, e.g. Subcategory market share is 12.6% less than our overall market share.

3. Interrogate the Suspects

Drill-down into your top 10 ‘Key Suspects’, e.g. When did the trend begin? What affects the trend? What other supermarkets have had a similar problem?

4. Know the Motives

Turn the observations above, in step 3, into insights, e.g. Observation – Sales reduce by 10% in August, Insight – Because a competitor begins their biggest promotion.


5. The Haul

Know how much each key suspect is worth, e.g. The opportunity is valued at £0.6m for the retailer for the remainder of this year and £0.9m for the whole of next year.

6. Weigh-up the Evidence

Using all the observations and insights that you have gathered about the suspects recommend steps to apprehend them, and prioritise accordingly on a Boston Matrix.

7. Convince the Jury

You’ve spent a long time understanding the suspect – Now spend a good amount of time convincing the jury, i.e. Do they like graphs? A thorough explanation of the journey? How did you succeed with them in the past? (Don’t start with PowerPoint!).

What is your top tip for finding category opportunities? Please share your view by commenting at the end of this article.

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1 Comment.

  • Really good breakdown of this, with simple and easy to understand points. Great and easy article to read. ++++

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